ST. PETERSBURG, August 24, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's Prosecutor-General's Office announced today that a prominent businessman with reputed ties to organized crime has been arrested in St. Petersburg.
Agencies report that Moscow and St. Petersburg police arrested Vladimir Barsukov -- who was previously known as Vladimir Kumarin before changing his name in the late 1990s -- in a joint operation on August 22.
Barsukov, the former vice president of the Petersburg Fuel Company, was once alleged to be the leader of the powerful Tambov Gang. In the 1990s, the Tambov Gang was one of the most influential and feared organized crime groups in St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg-based investigative journalist Andrei Konstantinov, who writes extensively on organized crime, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that Barsukov is a relic of a bygone era and that his detention will not have major repercussions:
"This won't cause any major earthquakes [in the St. Petersburg business world]," Konstantinov said. "The time of the bandits in St. Petersburg is long over and he [Barsukov] was one of the last of the Mohicans. He is a holdover from an era that is over."
According to a statement posted today on the website of the Prosecutor-General's Office, Barsukov is under investigation for "a number of crimes, including murder and an attempt to organize a contract killing with the goal of subsequently seizing ownership of the St. Petersburg oil terminal."